Noel Whelan: Everyone is proud of them

Ex-forward looks ahead to the FA Youth Cup final.

noel iv.jpg

Former Whites striker Noel Whelan was part of the Leeds United side that won the 1993 FA Youth Cup, overcoming rivals Manchester United in the final.

The forward was on the scoresheet as Leeds earnt a 2-0 victory at Old Trafford, before a 2-1 home success saw the side crowned champions at a packed-out Elland Road.

Manchester City now sit between the current crop of youngsters and the club’s third ever FA Youth Cup trophy, with the showpiece final taking place at the Etihad Stadium on Friday evening.

Ahead of the clash, Whelan discussed his memories of the tournament and what success will mean to our Under-18s, exclusively with LUTV.

“I think the FA Youth Cup is a huge trophy to win” the former striker said. “This was our opportunity, at 17 or 18-year-old, to go on and create something special, and win a trophy which is very hard to win.

“It is the start of a young player’s journey to becoming a professional and gives a taste of playing in front of crowds week in week out.

“We beat quite a few teams by a lot of goals and that set up a final against our rivals Manchester United. The memories of it are fantastic! The first leg at Old Trafford, the build up was big and I remember on the coach going there with the adrenaline pumping through the body.

“It was a great game from the off and there were battles all over the pitch. Nobody gave us a chance at all because all the build up was about Manchester United, with the likes of David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and the two Nevilles.

“On the evening, we came away with a 2-0 win which gave us that belief going in to the second leg at Elland Road. For a Leeds boy who had supported the club all of my life, I was full of pride and passion on that evening.

“The crowd was over 30,000 and even sitting in the changing room, you could hear it above you. It was a massive occasion and one that stands in my memory. It was one of my proudest moments, so hopefully this new crop of stars that are coming through can achieve the same.

“You need a mental toughness in these sort of games. League games are one thing, but you know a cup run is always based on one game at a time.

“It is all about what they believe in, what they have worked on with the manager, sticking to their principles and how they play. They have done a fantastic job to get there.

“They are on the cusp of making more history for Leeds United and it is going to be a great occasion. They should all be proud of themselves for getting to this point, but I know deep down they will all be hoping they get the job done.

“Everyone at the club is proud of them. These sorts of moments don’t come around often, there are a lot of pressure on it but so far, they have managed to control that and get to the final.”

Related Content

  1. 01
  2. 02
  3. 03